Edging Back Into the Kaua’i Rental Market

for-rentRight now Brett and I are really only semi-seriously looking for a new place to rent, but I have been looking at Craigslist every day now to get an idea of what’s available in the current rental market and what prices are like (everyone here, including all property management companies, advertise on Craigslist). With our son and family visiting for Christmas, and Meiling also home for the holidays, we’d like to stay where we are though until after the first of the year.

However, the week before last a house showed up on Craigslist that we thought might be a good fit for us. It was a little bigger than the house we’re in now, in a great location, and the rent was a little less than we pay here. It had open beam ceilings in the living room, and a stunning ocean view from the back lanai. There were things we didn’t like about the house though: it had wall-to-wall carpeting; it was another upstairs unit with an apartment on the ground level; the laundry facilities were downstairs in the garage and shared with the other tenant; and again there was no dishwasher.

Still, we thought it was worth a try and we responded to the ad. We were actually the first people to call and request an application, but it took the owner a few days and a reminder to send one to us. We filled the application out and sent it right back, but after three days of hearing nothing I finally emailed her day before yesterday and asked her to let us know what was happening. I got an email back yesterday morning informing me that she had had 26 applicants (!) for the house, and had chosen someone else.

Her response was a sharp reminder of what we are going to be up against in our search for a new rental, that we’ll most likely be competing with a potential 20+ other applicants each time we find something that might work for us. The rental market is very tight on the island, especially for families, and nice, affordable rentals are snapped up quickly (in fact, if a rental lingers on Craigslist it typically means there is something seriously wrong with either the property or the owner). We have sufficient income, excellent credit scores, good references, and everything else that’s needed, but each time we apply we’ll be compared with who knows how many others with equal or maybe better qualifications. It’s going to be crazy.

We were very lucky to get the house we live in now and we know it. It’s been a great place to start off our life on Kaua’i. Our landlord’s real estate agent asked us again yesterday if we would consider staying here in this house after it’s sold – we’re an asset as we’re solid renters and do a good job of maintaining the property. But, both Brett and I would like to move on and try a different area on the island for a while if we can find a good place.

We’ll start seriously looking after the first of the year, but are prepared to jump before that if something suitable pops up. We see now though that we are really going to have to up our game if we want to come out on top in the rental market here.

7 thoughts on “Edging Back Into the Kaua’i Rental Market

  1. Denise says:

    It’s too bad you can’t hand-deliver your application with some delicious baked treats!

    We sold our first house in a seller’s market, and had an agent show up at our door with a full price offer before we technically were even on the market. The family had lost out several times and they were determined to get our house. We had to live with my in-laws for a month as our new house wasn’t ready yet!

    Are there rental companies that handle applications, etc. for owners? Maybe you can list your information with them? Just a thought!

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    • Laura says:

      We will probably work with an agency, but not until after the first of the year. I think otherwise it might just be too crazy for us. Kaua’i is like a small town where everyone knows everyone, and we’re the new kids on the block. I think that’s what’s going to be the biggest thing against us. With an agency we can sort of get around that.

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  2. Cheryl says:

    I don’t understand why they pick one application over another when you have everything a landlord would want in a renter. You would think they would pick the first person who filled out the application and had all the qualifications. Do you have any idea how much time you have in the current rental? Bet the new landlords raise the rent. Cheryl

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    • Laura says:

      Kaua’i is like a small town, and although we might have been first with the application, there’s a good possibility that someone that someone else knows that knows the owner got the nod. That’s just how it works here.

      Our lease here is good through the end of next May, so we have several months to find something new. The selling agent told us yesterday before the showing that two of the people who looked were surprised by how much the owner was already getting for rent (and yet we are paying market prices here). They could raise the rent or they could leave it where it is, but it’s a risky gamble for us. After living here for over a year, there are some features that I miss (like having a dishwasher and a lanai) that make moving worthwhile for us.

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  3. Kris says:

    The new potential landlords may think you won’t stay and be that dependable long term renter. So a local who has lived there for years may be more desirable. Mainland people are expected to get tired of being isolated in the middle of the ocean and go back home after a few years.

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    • Laura says:

      I totally agree with this! People from the mainland are often perceived as not going to stay around for long, so it’s more likely someone local will be chosen. It’s the same thing socially – until you’ve been here awhile (usually more than two years) locals assume you won’t be around for long so it doesn’t make sense to get close or make a connection that’s going to be broken.

      We know what we’re up against, and know why we might not be chosen for a rental.

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